Spent the weekend in Washington, DC staying with my former roommate of 4 years, Scott, as well as seeing members of the Columbia Heights (DC neighborhood) halaqa community. This city represents so many firsts for me: living fully away from home; using public transportation; going to shows; getting a “real” job; dating someone not of my cultural background; finding a Muslim community that I felt at home with.
Being away for a few years made me realize how important and unique some of these experiences were. Specifically, the first and last ones have helped to shape me into the person you know today. Sharing a space with people who were totally unfamiliar taught me how to push past the initial fear of the unknown and work together – invaluable skills for my time in Doha. In my case it also led to me developing friendships with other guys that were equal parts emotionally vulnerability and humor. Being a person that didn’t have many male friends growing up, such relationships were unfamiliar; I’d grown up often connecting better with females. Relocating to the US presents a chance to reconnect once more and pick back up where things left off.
On the Muslim community front, I can’t fully explain how it feels to be back among spiritual peers who love unconditionally. Last night I got the chance to hangout with some of these people, many who I hadn’t seen in years. We spent hours discussing modern dating, sibling relationships, biking, digital bullying. Yes, some of these things came up in Doha among friends, but this felt different. This was especially apparent when talking about my divorce this year, which some friends didn’t know about. Breaching the subject for the first time caused me to feel initially hesistant as I have worked up this stigma in my head of being a divorcee. Al hamdulilah these fears were misplaced.
With this next chapter just getting started I’m excited to be a more active and better friend to these people/communities. One thing I’m looking forward to most in this area is bringing back the DC Townhall Dialogue Series and inshallah expanding it to NYC alongside friends. More than ever it’s time to dive headfirst into topics like domestic abuse, Islamophobia, and much more among Muslim peers and take action. Stay tuned for more details as things come together. Friends overseas: come join us! Just saying an American holiday might be nice 😂